Updated: May 27
By Oliver James Pike
Vaccine passports have been put forward as a potential way out of lockdowns and social distancing and many governments including the UK are now considering them. We were already told that the vaccine would be such a way out and are now left with even more questions than before when it was made available. Vaccine passports are an affront to liberty and their introduction would mean nothing less than coerced vaccination by stealth.
By introducing such passports and creating a framework whereby people may only socialise, eat out and party as they once did if they possess such a passport, then a two their system of rules is created. One unbearable and with immense mental health risks attached to it or the other a medical treatment which an individual could be apprehensive about or wholly against for a multitude of reasons. No matter how foolish we may think said people are in rejecting such vaccines they have the right to refuse and a right to bodily autonomy. Creating immense pressures to participate in a vaccination programme will either condemn those with some personal religious or medical objection to extended misery or will force people to participate where otherwise they would not have through unprecedented measures. Encouraging vaccination is a noble thing to do but creating authoritarian frameworks to do so is not encouragement but coercion.
The alternative approach of state-mandated injections at gunpoint simply isn't politically palatable (even in proto-1984 Britain we now live) so this back door option must be considered. While this might appear a sensible solution to the current situation we find ourselves in such moves will in fact undermine the principles of medical law and indirectly curtail patient autonomy (especially through the mechanisms of the state) to do so.
Whenever people concerned with liberty and freedom have spoken up during the pandemic the repose has been that temporary limitations on freedom are necessary to speed up the return of all our freedoms. Not only does this assumes the government was justified in taking these freedoms away in the first place (or that any existed in a meaningful sense before covid took root) but It also allows anything to be justified by government when such paradoxical logic is applied. Suppressing freedom to enjoy it later treats the concept like a light switch that can be reliably switched on and off without the whole spirit of rights and freedoms being limitations on state power disappearing. Once we have accepted that the state can legitimately do all the things it has done, and when we are granted our freedoms back, how can we be so sure the precedents established will not be used with increasingly sinister regularity as new threats (real or perceived) emerge?
Heavy-handed approaches taken towards anti lockdown protests, covert policing of pubs by licensing authorities, ridiculous restrictions on non-essential goods, Ministry of Defence led campaigns against online misinformation, censorship, the restriction of movement, interference with the freedom of religion, and even the suggested suspension of jury trial are all sensible and proportionate responses once you have accepted the fact that principles and precedents have no relevance in the age of covid. The vaccine passport suggestion is just the latest example of such short term thinking.
Many have written off Nigel Farage's New Anti Lockdown party as an irrelevance. The argument is that Lockdown is a temporary political issue and thus branding a party as anti lockdown is unhelpful. However, the lockdown has exposed two crucial things that Reform UK and parties like it seek to address. The first is the two-party system in the UK where the establishment runs parties and gatekeeps politics from people or ideas that challenge the status quo. The two main parties have agreed on almost everything in principle and disagreements have focused on minor details. The opposition to lockdown, the shutting of the economy, ignorance of the new covid mental health crisis and curbing of civil liberties has been confined to a small number of MPs who have been smeared and labelled as radicals. The second connected issue is the lack of respect the big parties of the UK have for principles and freedom. Nothing is sacred and everything is now able to be fiddled with by this new managerial breed of politician.
Reform of the voting system post covid would address the huge problems with the two-party hegemony currently installed. It should also be noted that parties like this tend to be far more resolute in their defence for the rights and liberties that have been tossed to the wayside during the pandemic. This sort of dismissive attitude towards ancient rights and liberties is not new for The major parties of UK politics who have together all but torn up the Magna Carta. If the Conservative party does not quickly rediscover its respect for liberty and principled governance, then it will have lost its soul and with it huge swathes of voters to parties that genuinely care about freedom. The response to Covid has exposed the widespread disregard the political elite show our fundamental rights and liberties but also the lacking quality of opposition to the creeping tyranny that was on the move long before the age of lockdowns.